Like clockwork, every Monday afternoon brings a new crop of Super 16 power rankings from NHL.com. There’s been a whole month of rankings now and some things have remained consistent throughout the first four weeks. The Boston Bruins have never been outside the top three and the Chicago Blackhawks have a three-week first place streak going right now. However, this week brings some newcomers into the fold of the top half–and then some–of the league.
It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion by now that the Blackhawks will be in first place. As long as they keep playing dominantly like they are right now, expect to keep seeing that Indian head logo atop the list. Considering that they’re perched atop the Western Conference with 22 points, boasting a 10-0-2 record, featuring league star of the week Patrick Kane playing what may be the best hockey he’s ever played and have Corey Crawford looking like a potential Vezina Trophy finalist, things are going pretty well in the Windy City right now.
However, the San Jose Sharks fell out of the top three after two weeks playing second fiddle to Chicago. The Sharks have slumped slightly–hot scorer Patrick Marleau has especially cooled off–and their power play is starting to become a cause for concern because as it is starting to lose efficacy, the team is starting to win less often. As the Sharks’ man advantage goes, so goes the team, apparently.
If they want to know how to keep winning but also carry a pretty dreadful power play, though, they could ask the team that Joe Thornton used to play for, the Boston Bruins. In second place this week, the Bruins are on top of the Northeast Division and right behind the New Jersey Devils for the Eastern Conference lead. (New Jersey benefits from having two games in hand and not having had any games postponed for weather concerns.) They’ve just stitched together the best start in the history of their team in spite of a power play so bad that Bruins fans often beg the powers that be to just decline penalties altogether.
Speak of the Devils, because they’ve surged from 12th place in the rankings to third in just the span of a week. They have a five-game win streak going, which is the best in the conference, and their goaltenders–who are by far the oldest tandem in the league if you add up their ages–are both looking pretty strong right now. David Clarkson has emerged as one of the most prolific goal scorers, too.
The Detroit Red Wings also leaped into the rankings after not being in the top 16 at all last week. The strong play of newcomer goalie Petr Mrazek is cause for celebration in Hockeytown, as is the fact that they just pulled out a buzzer-beating 3-2 win over the Stanley Cup champions in NBC’s game of the week. Strong netminding is also the reason that the Toronto Maple Leafs, also unranked last week, come in at 10.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning plummeted after off weeks for all three teams: a losing streak, a huge loss that also involved someone “allegedly” biting someone else and a bad road trip, in that order.